OTR Interviews

Bachmann: Obama Destroyed U.S. Credit Rating, Should Fire Treasury Secretary Geithner

GOP 2012 candidate blames president for S&P downgrade of U.S. credit rating


This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," August 5, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: GOP presidential candidate and congresswoman, Michele Bachmann, joins us on the phone from the campaign trail. Congresswoman, first of all, there's no secret that you didn't like the deal that went down. You voted against it on Tuesday. Your thoughts tonight that S&P has now downgraded the United States.

REP. MICHELE BACHMANN, R-MINN./PRES. CANDIDATE (Via Telephone): That's right. Tonight's decision, Greta, by S&P to downgrade our credit rating to a AA-plus is historically significant. It's a very serious event for the United States because our country has had a AAA rating since 1917. That rating has never been downgraded. It has endured the great Depression, World War II, Korea, Vietnam and the terrorist attacks on 9/11.

This president has destroyed the credit rating of the United States through failed economic policies and his inability to control government spending by once again raising the debt ceiling. We were warned by all the credit agencies that a failure to deal with the debt would lead to this downgrade in our credit rating. But instead, the president submitted a budget that had a $1.5 trillion deficit. Then he requested a $2.4 trillion blank check on top of that.

President Obama is destroying the foundations of our economy one beam at a time. I call on the president to seek the immediate resignation of the Treasury secretary, Tim Geithner, and to submit a plan with his list of cuts to balance the budget this year. Turn the economy around and put our people back to work.

I'm very concerned that the administration tomorrow might look for anyone else to blame. They may blame the Tea Party. They may blame the ratings agencies or anyone else. They knew it was coming this year in January, but they didn't write a plan and they still don't have a plan.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, to the extent that you lay the blame on the president, it is a fact that there were a lot of Republicans on board for this deal last Tuesday, which seems to be the most immediate catalyst for this downgrade. And if you back it up a little bit further, of course, we do have the stimulus bill of 2009, which is a terrific amount of spending. But even leading up to that, we had a Republican presidency. We've been spending like drunken sailors! My apology to sailors across the -- across the nation.

But we have been spending. This is no big surprise. It's just that Tuesday, apparently, was the bomb that set it off.

BACHMANN: That's right. That was the straw that broke the camel's back. And that's why, Greta, for weeks, I've been leading against this deal in Washington, D.C. I've been saying we have to get our spending and our debt in order. That's what the credit ratings agencies were telling us months ago. And that's what I've been saying for weeks.

VAN SUSTEREN: Do you think that the -- those who voted for this deal on Tuesday knew that they were playing Russian roulette with the credit rating? I mean, we'd all -- we'd heard some sort of saber-rattling by the credit rating agencies, but do you think when they voted, they knew that this was likely? And do they think that this is simply, though, a hurdle, it's an embarrassment for the nation, it's going to cause -- cause problems for Americans with higher interest rates, but that this -- this -- we can recover from this in quick order?

BACHMANN: This is not an embarrassment to the nation. This is a very serious, historically significant event that's just occurred. Again, since 1917, we've had a AAA credit rating. This is more than historically significant. We're all very concerned about what will happen and transpire with the markets on Monday morning. We aren't sure what investors will do.

Clearly, it was imperative that we literally deal with our spending priorities and not add to the debt ceiling in the way we did. And now we saw the proof in the pudding with the market crash that we just saw, and today was this credit rating.

This is very significant. That's why the president of the United States needs to submit his plan, finally, with a list of real cuts to balance our budget this year because, quite frankly, there are people, millions of Americans, 14 million Americans out of work. They need jobs. And the president has to do his job.

VAN SUSTEREN: If in November, when the super-committee meets and if they are able to find the cuts, do you think that it can be turned around quickly enough, that, for instance, this credit rating, and also is that fast enough so Americans won't feel the sort of the pinch of the increased interest rates between now and November, or are things going to happen quickly?

BACHMANN: I don't think this can wait until November, Greta. This needs to happen immediately. Again, the president knew about this problem in January. Despite that fact, the following month, he submitted a plan for his budget with $1.5 trillion in deficits. The president planned for failure. He has -- even to -- even up until Tuesday, he did not have a plan. He finally has to put on the table what his cuts are because, clearly, that's what we must do, is cut.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, we only have a minute left. You said that the president should ask for the resignation of Treasury Secretary Geithner. If he doesn't get the resignation, if you were president, would you fire him?

BACHMANN: Of course. Treasury Secretary Geithner needs to go.

VAN SUSTEREN: Why do you blame him?

BACHMANN: Why am I -- why am I looking at him?


BACHMANN: He has been the architect -- he has been the architect of the economic -- of the so-called economic recovery. The decisions that he has made as treasury secretary have not -- and again, they are at the direction of the president -- they are not ones that have clearly turned the economy in order or led to job creation. We got the numbers today that the unemployment rate is 9.1 percent. We are by every metric -- are manufacturing is at a two-year low. We can go through all these metrics. Our economy is in a very poor place right now. This -- This was unheard of. When the credit agencies downgraded to AA-plus...

VAN SUSTEREN: And I've got to go. And I've got to go. Representative Bachmann, thank you very much and thank for joining us for this special coverage of the credit downgrade.